Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch
November 19th, 2013
12:27 AM ET
1 year ago

Private consulting firm warned of glitches before healthcare.gov launch

(CNN) - A newly disclosed report indicates that officials in the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services received warnings from a private consultant group that the federal online healthcare enrollment site could potentially fail to function properly for the October 1 launch date.

The analysis by McKinsey & Company was requested by the White House. It identified various problems with the exchange, including limited testing time and resources before the launch, and found that call-in centers wouldn't function properly if the website malfunctioned.

The Obama administration has come under fire for the botched October 1 launch of healthcare.gov. The site has been plagued with technical issues barring many enrollees from signing up for the federal exchange though the site. This report suggests problems were brought to the attention of key officials as early as March.

The administration has said the President didn't know of problems with the Affordable Care Act's website until after its fumbled rollout - even though insurance companies had been complaining and the site crashed during a pre-launch test run.

CNN received the report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received a briefing at the HHS headquarters with these concerns on April 4, along with acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Marilyn Tavenner and White House chief technology officer Todd Park. Park was also present at a briefing on March 28 at the CMS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Despite assurances from Secretary Sebelius, Marilyn Tavenner, and Gary Cohen that ‘all was well’ and ‘on track’ with the launch of the Affordable Care Act, we now have documents dating back to April that call into question what they told us,” said Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania).

On Tuesday, a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee holds a hearing on the security of the federal healthcare website.

McKinsey's report says the group reviewed 200 documents and sources, interviewed about 40 people across a variety of federal agencies and participated in some meetings and work sessions. But the analysis did not include outside interviews with insurers or access computer code or programs.

The report also points to potential areas of risk that never became a significant issue - like the data hubs used by the state sites and the federal site, to verify applicants' income, citizenship and eligibility. Or prolonged call times, which have been brought down in the weeks following the launch.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post.

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Healthcare • HHS • Kathleen Sebelius • Obama administration
soundoff (539 Responses)
  1. kai

    Obama's ACA is turning out to be Bush's Katrina. Are we really that said as a nation? Two consecutive incompetent presidents.

    November 19, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Jabbadahut

    It is really funny even after all that this administration is doing/lying that the true supporters still will follow barry to the grave. Obamacare is just part of this administrations problems, barry has been blaming so many others for so long to cover his incompetence that he can't figure out what went wrong. If anyone thinks that the ACA is affordable, then you have too much money.

    November 19, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. VJ

    Flash News:
    First Obama care victory happened in the state of Louisiana (predominantly red state). Obama care will work and everyone will be happy. A republican candidate won the election with the medicaid expansion provision of Obama care..Soon we will be seeing this every where across the America.

    To all Obama Haters:-
    If you live in the states where your republican governors failed to implement Obama care needs to shut up their mouth. Ask your governors to setup exchanges and include in medicaid expansion of Obama care and then you have right to speak and write. until then you people don't deserve any rights in criticizing Obama care.

    November 19, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Lisa P.

    Maria Delaluz

    I need to learn more about this, but there is some kind of a $63.00 fee that under Obamacare all taxpayers must pay. I hear there's something in the works to exempt unions from this fee. Hmmm, for some reason I was under the impression that we were all equal under the law????
    November 19, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am
    ---------------------------------–
    Perhaps you should find out if there really is a $63 fee, and what it's actually for, before you start getting all upset about what "the unions" (meaning who, exactly?) are or aren't doing. And don't forget - many of us are already treated differently because we get our health insurance through our employers. The ACA health insurance marketplaces are meant to mimic the choice of group plans that my employer offers, with a range of premiums, co-pays and deductibles for basic coverage plus optional add-ons. It may not be perfect (yet) but it's a heck of a lot better than the opaque, micro-managed and gimmick-filled policies that, for the last few decades, were the only policies available to individual buyers and small businesses. Everyone should have the deal my employer gets on my and my co-workers' health insurance. I hope that with ACA everyone soon will.

    November 19, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Doug in NYC

    Right, President Obama lied about a slow and glitch filled website, but nobody died from it. Think of the outrage if a President lied us into a war, with a country that didn't attack us, and thousands of Americans were killed.......oh wait!

    November 19, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. Detra

    @Maria Delaluz. perhaps you should "learn more abut this" before you comment. Seems to be a big problem today across the board. People commenting, hearing this or that, and then commenting before they have the full facts. This is much ado about nothing. I am a Democrat, frustrated with administration for botching this and other things. Gives opponents ammo they don't need. I'm also frustrated with Democrats running and hiding from the ACA because of some bad publicity. A bad website doesn't make a bad policy or program. Ask any major corporation that implements new IT throughout the company. We will be and already are better off because of ACA.

    BTW I have employer based health care in MA. Had it before universal coverage and after with the same company. Company's choose to make the best choice for their employees based upon the company's agenda. Further, before our universal coverage, premiums increased annually 10-20%. Reason cited "increased use of the insurance by employees." We were penalized for using the insurance we pay dearly for. Last year was the first time we saw premiums stay the same. The year before, people actually got refunds because of the 80% rule requiring insurance companies to devote 80% of premiums to actual coverage and not overhead, or inflated executive salaries.

    Competition is good. Republicans used to be for it, before they were against it.

    November 19, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. sotte

    SERIOUSLY? Don't make me laugh! How does this warning about technology glitches in any way compare to the White House warning about the potential for the 911 attacks? This is NOTHING compared to the incompetence of the GWB administration. The total disregard for the 911 warnings and the lies that the GWB administration KNOWINGLY told us caused thousands of deaths and many more thousands in catastrophic injuries. President Obama has taken responsibility for the problem with the ACA website and has assured us that they will be fixed. GWB has NEVER taken responsibility for the lies, death and destruction his administration has caused this country...

    November 19, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. IUGirl86

    Malory Archer,
    I consider Afghanistan and Pakistan comparable to "Desert" as well as foreign nations. Are all of our troops home? I must have missed the memo while playing with my little straw man.

    November 19, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Anthony Talbert

    "How significant was President Obama’s “if you like it” bait and switch? The latest WaPo/ABC News poll says that if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would beat Obama 49 percent to 45 percent. That’s an 8-point swing from the results of last year’s election. And that’s among registered voters, saying nothing of what voter intensity would do to those numbers given the growing opposition to the health law and the president’s management. The survey shows public opposition to ObamaCare at 57 percent, in the latest WaPo/ABC news poll. President Obama’s approval is also suffering with 44 percent of adults now saying they “strongly disapprove” of the job he is doing. "

    ----------

    Hmm. Washington Post and ABC - two well known right wing media - NOT

    I wonder if CNN will do a story on this?

    November 19, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. c

    kai

    Obama's ACA is turning out to be Bush's Katrina. Are we really that said as a nation? Two consecutive incompetent presidents.

    --

    Anyone that compares the deaths of over 1000 people after a natural disaster due to the inaction and indifference of an administration, to the attempt to provide health care to millions who do not have it is a complete moron. By your standard, Bush had two Katrinas (at least) as the rollout of Medicare Part D was every bit as messed up as that of the ACA,.

    November 19, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. Chris Prirchett

    But, healthcare should be an option not a requirement. If we are forced to have coverage then why are so many people exempt? On a positive note, will 0bummer ever be impeached over his several scandals???

    November 19, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    kai

    Obama's ACA is turning out to be Bush's Katrina.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except nobody's drowning in their attics or baking on their rooftops for days as a result of a website failure. Can you say equivalence fail? And it it's REALLY about the ACA and not the website, please explain what it is about the ACA that you don't like?

    November 19, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. Anthony

    Has any insurance company said that it will renew the canceled plans? Obama has said that he will allow insurance companies to continue their existing plans if they want to do that. Has any companies taken up the president's offer? As far as I know, the media has not reported any insurance company willing to renew the canceled plans.

    November 19, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. ncwriter

    Nice that someone warned of glitches. In retrospect, we've learned that someone warned about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and someone warned about the 9-11 terrorists taking flight lessons, but so what? It didn't change anything.

    In the case of Obamacare, the website isn't really the issue, it's just another symptom. The real issue, as we're finding out, as was predicted, is economic. When you start adding demand, you start adding more money and you do things that reduce supply, prices get higher. Anyone who has the most basic training in economics recognizes that if they bother to look at it. The trouble is too many people, including those who rammed this law through, either aren't interested in knowing the economic outcome or aren't equipped with knowledge to understand it.

    November 19, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Malory Archer

    Chris Prirchett

    But, healthcare should be an option not a requirement.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Only if physicians and healthcare facilities have the option of not treating patients who can't pay cash on the spot, thereby sticking responsible Americans with their healthcare costs. Until that happens, you need to pay your own way.

    November 19, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Anthony Talbert

    "kai
    Obama's ACA is turning out to be Bush's Katrina. Are we really that said as a nation? Two consecutive incompetent presidents.

    November 19, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |"

    ---------

    However, facts show that Bush wanted to do something promptly after Katrina but was prevented from doing so by the law which required that the governor of LA ( a female Democrat) ask for federal assistance.

    November 19, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. Malory Archer

    Chris Prirchett

    On a positive note, will 0bummer ever be impeached over his several scandals???

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    No matter how much your ilk would like it to be so, you can't impeach a president based on made up "scandals", and much to your chagrin, he hasn't committed any crimes. Now, would you like some cheese to go with your whine?

    November 19, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. Denise

    Healthcare is a privilege, not a right, yada yada yada yada.....I pray that some dittohead returning from a tea party rally isn't involved in a horrible car accident and has no insurance and is in a wheelchair the rest of their life and government is footing the bill. After all, they are so lucky, take better care of themselves, make more money, etc.......than the rest of us, NOT!!

    November 19, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Denise

    Gallup polls also elected Mitt, NOT!

    November 19, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. cmml

    I love to hear liberals refer to existing plans as substandard.

    What makes them substandard – is it because a 70 year old grandmother doesn't have maternity coverage? Does that make her policy substandard

    Is it because a healthy 27 year old doesn't have prescription drug benefits, does that make it substandard?

    Does a 50 year old single man need pediatric care coverage for himself? Is it's absence substandard.

    The sub standard argument is moronic. It's like the cable company forcing you to upgrade to the Platinum Package because your current basic cable plan is substandard

    November 19, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. Malory Archer

    Anthony

    Has any insurance company said that it will renew the canceled plans? Obama has said that he will allow insurance companies to continue their existing plans if they want to do that. Has any companies taken up the president's offer? As far as I know, the media has not reported any insurance company willing to renew the canceled plans.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Because doing so wouldn't fit the "librul" media's agenda. Allowing people to keep their existing plan was the rethug/teabag toddler hew and cry right up until last week when President Obama got on board. Now they're backing away like they smelled something bad!

    November 19, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Ralph

    The administration has said the President didn't know of problems with the Affordable Care Act's website until after its fumbled rollout
    ===============================================================
    He was absent from the Senate and now we find out he's absent from the presidency. The "signature" policy of his two terms and he didn't care to exert executive oversight over the project. He'll get the party sheeple to put the blame on someone else.

    November 19, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Veritas

    At what point do we decide it's one falsehood too many?

    November 19, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Ron

    For those people defending the incompetence of the web site rollout, I claim you are wrong. As a 30+ year software developer, I know that software projects do not need to be disasters. For those saying the government can't do software, may I remind you that NASA (government) had nearly error-free code when they put men on the moon. The right people can do the job right.

    November 19, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Malory Archer

    Anthony Talbert

    However, facts show that Bush wanted to do something promptly after Katrina but was prevented from doing so by the law which required that the governor of LA ( a female Democrat) ask for federal assistance

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Which she did, but the fed refused until she agreed to surrender the state of LA to the federal government. However, he didn't demand that same surrender of all the other (male regthug) governors along the Gulf coast as a non-negotiable condition of assistance. Nice try, but we gotcha!

    November 19, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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